CSFF Blog Tour – Lost Mission by Athol Dickson, Day 1

The first of two CSFF Blog Tour April features is Lost Mission by Athol Dickson (Howard Fiction). This adult novel is best characterized as literary magic realism, so it’s quite different from the usual CSFF fare. Not a bad thing.

Several particulars stand out to me when I think of this book, not the least being two significant themes. I think I’ll treat each of those separately, then do my review. Or maybe I’ll do my review sandwiched between the treatment of the themes—we’ll see what tomorrow brings. 😉

At any rate, today I want to discuss obedience. In the context of Lost Mission, obedience refers to choosing to obey God rather than Man, choosing to obey or disobey national laws, choosing to follow rule or conscience.

The most obvious situation in which obedience becomes a central issue involves key characters who disregard immigration law and travel from Mexico to the US illegally.

As if to pave the way for acceptance of this action, the book fairly early introduced the idea of borders being artificial boundaries:

The friar knew nothing of geography, but he had seen no line upon the ground, no barricade along the border. To him the animals and plants and soil had all seemed the same … Pondering the power of such an invisible difference, Alejandro wondered what drove men to call one land different from another. Even if there had been some kind of marker at the border, what did it truly signify? A bird upon the wind would pass from here to there unchanged, and whether the wind blew from south or north it did not pause at walls or fences, yet a man born on one side of a line upon a map might be forced to carry heavy burdens like an animal, while with a different accident of birth the same man might be blessed to ride a horse. Ideas, it seemed, were the most substantial thing in the universe.

Ideas, not laws? After all, borders are ultimately a result of treaties and agreements. But if they exist instead as “ideas” might not someone else have a different idea upon which he may act?

Apparently that point is one Lost Mission explores. The main character, Lupe, believes she is led by God to go to the US to preach the gospel to the pagans who glorify money and self. Her first step is to pack up and start out across the border illegally.

Later in the story one of the characters becomes a modern Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor because he sees greed and a lack of compassion and hypocrisy in church-goers. So the question develops: is it ever right to do wrong?

I couldn’t help thinking about Corrie ten Boom hiding Jews during World War II. To do this, she and her underground group falsified identity papers and stole food ration cards and lied to the authorities. Was this not the same as Rahab lying to protect the two Israelite spies in Jericho before God’s people marched into the Promised Land?

Do these kinds of things fall under the category of obeying God rather than Man? But where does “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21a) fit into this line of thinking? And what about this admonition in I Peter:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
– I Peter 2:13-14

I could say a lot more about the subject, but let me give a quick overview of my own thoughts. Scripture needs to be my guide. I have a clear mandate to submit to every human institution and Christ’s own example of doing so during the Roman empire when government was vile and corrupt. However, if these human institutions require me to do something that contradicts God’s commandments, I must disobey them in order to obey Him.

Clearly a person wishing to go to the US to preach the gospel has other options than illegal immigration. Someone confronted with greed and selfishness has other options than theft. Those, and situations like them, are not instances in which a Christian should do other than abide by the law. At least, that’s how I see it.

Check out what others on the blog tour have to say about this subject and about Lost Mission itself.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 10:12 am  Comments (11)  
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